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What happens to the old and feeble in an intentional community?  RSS feed

 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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What happens to the old and feeble in an intentional community?

If someone goes blind, has an accident and becomes paralyzed, or is just very elderly and needs to be cared for? 

What if you have 5 or 6 such people and they have all contributed to the community for ten or 15 years?
 
Tyler Ludens
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In my intentional community we would take care of them according to their wishes, which we hope would be stated ahead of time in a clear manner (possibly written down in the form of a living will).    What about in yours? 
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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I won't be having one, thanks. 

  We have a sort of 'agreement' with three other people, neighbors, that we are all going to take care of each other as we get older.  But the bottom line is that, as much as we love each other, we each own our own property, have our own little castles, and play by our own rules.

We have good fences.  We are so similar in our independance that we would never dream of crossing each others boundaries and I think that is why we get along so well.

I am just wondering if people who are contemplating an intentional community are thinking about this?  Everyone will not always be able to pull a load, some will need to be taken care of.  Will people be willing to provide complete care and support for this person or even a number of people?

If you are the person who is old or feeble will you have resources?  Or does everything belong to someone else - or is it all shared?  For those people who are actually planning a community do you have a plan for this?
 
Tyler Ludens
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South Carolina wrote:
I won't be having one, thanks. 


I probably won't be having one either.    Probably more likely an extended family situation, for which my answer is the same as above.

 
Jocelyn Campbell
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There is an intentional community I've visited where the single leader's wife has dementia (or some such state where she is not very coherent). All of the community is gated primarily for her protection because she could wander off and get lost, which actually did happen not too long ago. She was missing in the woods for two days or so. (Apologies for not knowing all of these details.)

Beyond attention to the gates, regretfully I don't know how else the community might or might not be involved in her care.

What struck me in that Clint Eastwood movie "Gran Torino" is how cultures that live with multiple generations under one roof seem to have more of a tolerance for the old, infirm or folks who are stuck in their ways.

Kind of how we might tolerate a toddler who won't share a toy, or has a potty accident, the Hmong in the movie use loving kindness to help the stubborn or the elderly along.

In American culture it seems we don't know how to have similar kindness or inclusion with our elderly relatives. It might be part of why some folks want to build community for relationships' sake - to rebuild some of our cultural norms.
 
George Lafayette
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Location: Lafayette, CA
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we take care of them.  We've actually moved a couple of people's parents in with us and taken care of them.  As the average age of the group is rising, it is clearly going to get more and more challenging.
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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George, that is very heartwarming.  I am afraid that many people do not take this into consideration either for others or for themselves.

I am assuming that means that you currently live in such a community.  Maybe you could share your experience and how your community works.

Have you already done so and I just missed it in another post?
 
T. Joy
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When I am old and grey I'm hoping one of my kids will want me to live with them and take care of their children, make some meals and do a bit of housework, knit by the fire on a long winters night. I can't imagine either of them putting me out in the cold! I certainly hope I would receive the same love and care from an adopted family but who knows, we are so selfish these days. As with all of life, you pays your money and you takes your chances I suppose.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I hope they will want you to live with them, Joy.  I had the blessing of my grandmother living with my family for most of her life after my grandfather died, until her death.  She raised me as much as my mother did.  I hope my father will want to live with my husband and me or with my sister and her husband when he becomes too old to live on his own (probably some time in his 90s - he's 80 now).  I'm a firm believer in the extended family, though they can be a challenge! 
 
T. Joy
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LIFE is a challenge, that's what makes things interesting . It was never meant to be easy, we could stand to remember that in this time of convenience everything.
I hope your pops lives with you to a doddering old age. Nothing like having an elder around to keep things in perspective. What is it all about? At then end we all get old and die. Best live a good life every single day and not take a thing for granted. Perhaps that's why we hide our old folks away in homes and hospitals, don't want to be reminded of our own mortality. That's a lesson to me not to ignore incorporating a respect for death as a natural process in my small people.
 
Ken Peavey
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The old and feeble would have to be taken care of.  To do otherwise would be an unforgivable injustice and I'd think would put the IC at risk.  These people are not employees, they can't be treated as a commodity, they are not disposable.  If you toss someone out after dedicating themselves to the community, those who remain behind would see this as an absence of commitment.  Would you want to stick around?

 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Good point, Ken. I'm with South Carolina - it would be great to hear some of George's stories.

And in Ludi hoping Joy's kids will take her in! 

My grandmother lived with us when we were kids - she made the best blackberry jam, pies and cobblers! - and then later lived with my two aunts. Grandma passed away comfortably in their care at the age of 93 and never had to go into a nursing home.

My other grandma is still living on her own at the age of 95. She might be a bit too feisty to live with someone else (it would drive her and the other person(s) crazy!), and I think moving to a home or assisted care facility would do her in.

Grandma had an irregular heartbeat (again) just a few weeks ago and refused to call 911 because of the noise for the neighbors and the cost--even though she has insurance, the medical bills make her see red. I kinda think she was hoping it was her time. 
 
Tyler Ludens
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My husband's father had a "o Not Resuscitate" order carried on his person and posted over his bed.  He wanted to be allowed to check out when it was his time.  I think this is appropriate and responsible.

http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/pat-advocacy/endoflife/003.html
 
                        
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Not my community: I visited a community in Virginia named "Twin Oaks" (you can look it up on the internet, there is plenty of information).  There was an entire building with wider hallways and a hospital bed built around this theme.  While I was there one of the topics up for discussion on one of their bulletin boards was a proposed new building for the "aged or infirm".  The way the current senior members/special needs house was set up was that rooms were open to all members, like all other rooms in the community.  If a member had a special need for a room in that house, the person with the least need in the house (so long as they had less need than the newcomer) was kicked out and moved back to a room in the rest of the community.  Does that make any sense?

Resources were limited and it is a subject they take seriously.  As a previous poster hinted, if they were to dedicate decades of life to the community knowing that at the end of the line they'd be booted out to a state-run old person's home, their sanity would be dubious.

As for me, I've yet to find a healthy community I want to set down roots in!  I'm still crossing my fingers, knowing that the longer I put off plugging in, the less secure my future may be.
 
Len Ovens
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T. Joy wrote:
When I am old and grey I'm hoping one of my kids will want me to live with them and take care of their children, make some meals and do a bit of housework, knit by the fire on a long winters night. I can't imagine either of them putting me out in the cold! I certainly hope I would receive the same love and care from an adopted family but who knows, we are so selfish these days. As with all of life, you pays your money and you takes your chances I suppose.


My mother in law has lived with us from time to time. She needs care at 84 but is some help as well. I would never refuse her and have told my own mother she is welcome.... I want my own children to grow up thinking it is normal to have parents living with them I'm not sure there will be nursing homes if I ever need one. My mother, on the other hand, has said she would not live with any of us preferring a home. She doesn't want to cause problems and figures she is too cantankerous... wondered where I got that from. She was my fathers caregiver for over 10 years before he died and that may have coloured her thoughts. It is (even with a parent(s) living with children) worth paying for help in the care giving end for this reason. Here, in Canada (maybe just in BC), the government will help with some of these expenses or with respite (like babysitting).

In an IC I would suggest that the challenged live along with those who are not, preferably with family, but that there be facility available to help. Build all houses with wheel chairs and canes in mind.... not that every place in the home has to be accessible to them (unless they live alone) but the places they need. It is amazing the places my MIL is willing to go on foot just to keep from staying home. We have gone hiking, boating and camping with her.... even with a cane. Certainly there may come a time where hospital type care is needed, but helping a person to stay out of it as long as possible is the healthiest thing for them. My MIL could not live on her own, but so far she has been able to live with her family.... a nursing home would kill her.
 
George Lafayette
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Location: Lafayette, CA
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South Carolina wrote:
George, that is very heartwarming.  I am afraid that many people do not take this into consideration either for others or for themselves.

I am assuming that means that you currently live in such a community.  Maybe you could share your experience and how your community works.

Yes, I currently live in the http://www.LafayetteMorehouse.com community, the group has been together since 1968, I've lived in a couple of our different properties - here and in Oakland since ~1997, we operate based on a consensus decision making mechanism called 'the One No Vote'.  Ours in an experimental lifestyle, we try different things to see what works and what doesn't, the overall goal is to live together pleasurably.  We have found there is a lot to handle around things like communication, decision making, couples, families, getting along with each other, etc. etc.  We have a "family business" where we teach courses that explain the results of our research and the viewpoints that we've found that allow us to have such good lives.

We just moved one of the older women, Arlene, from one of the smaller houses to the main building so that she is much nearer people who can lend a hand.  Her daughter and granddaughter were the driving forces in getting a room renovated for her, and rounding up folks to help her move.  We have a system of shifts where we take turns taking care of each other, our property, our business, and now Arlene lives is next to the office where there is always someone 'on duty' -mostly answering the phone - and I think she has a buzzer if she needs help. 
 
Brice Moss
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if an IC is operating anything like any of the old tribal or clan systems than the old and infirm would become invaluable for the knowledge and wisdom they bring the group, and it seems reasonable that it would work well especialy considering that the only places I have seen that look like IC (my experience is realy limited here) and operate well were retirement comunities
 
                          
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If we like a person enough to bring them into our community, they become family. Family takes care of family. Period.
 
Fred Winsol
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What's your criteria for bringing them in as family?  Any trial periods, how long?
 
Penny Francis
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George Alchemy wrote:we take care of them.  We've actually moved a couple of people's parents in with us and taken care of them.  As the average age of the group is rising, it is clearly going to get more and more challenging.


I would think a sustainable IC would include the ability to bring in younger people. If a young couple came in and both worked outside the community but had children, maybe older people in the community could contribute by caring for the youngsters in the community.
 
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